By Dara Olmsted (Grant Writer & Ethnographer, Iridescent)
Did you miss the Technovation Challenge’s Women in Leadership panel at Andreessen Horowitz last month?

The science education non-profit that runs the Technovation Challenge, Iridescent, teaches high school girls how to design a mobile phone app prototype, write a business plan, and pitch their plan to a panel of venture capitalists.

The Iridescent website has posted short videos from the panel and backstage interviews that are packed full of insights and wisdom of some of Silicon Valley’s most influential female movers and shakers.

Highlights include:

  • Padmasree Warrior (CTO, Cisco) speaks about the challenge of women having to prove themselves over and over again and the integration of family, work, and hobbies.
  • Marissa Mayer (VP Location & Local Services, Google) recounts the mentor who changed her life, sleeping under her desk, pulling all-nighters, and working 130 hour weeks.
  • Sandy Jen (Co-Founder & CTO, Meebo) shares her personal vision and thoughts on women not being confident enough and gives advice on how to build a brilliant and inspired team.
  • Angela Benton (Founder, NewME Accelerator) talks about her vision of changing the tech industry, the value of diversity, and refusing to let others define her life after getting pregnant at 16.
  • Freada Kapor Klein (Founder, the Level Playing Field Institute) speaks about hard work vs. luck, the importance of being yourself, and having a mentor who reminds you who you are.

Check out the Stories of Leadership videos here.

Become a Mentor

The panelists are living proof that having a mentor is a major key to success, but the flip side of finding an amazing mentor is being a mentor to the next generation of female tech entrepreneurs.

The Technovation Challenge is looking for female mentors from the tech and entrepreneurship industries in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles to mentor a team of high school girls for ten weeks this spring. You don’t have to be a programmer, anyone in the field could be a mentor, as there are teaching assistants who help the girls with technical issues.

Being a mentor not only helps the girls, but it benefits the mentors too. Last year’s mentors said that the program expanded their network of women working in technology and increased their understanding of entrepreneurship. Here’s what they had to say:

“Professionally, this has been a great course in entrepreneurship. My favorite lecture was the Pitch lecture. I have been to many workshops and seminars in the past, and I think this one was top notch. I have to do public speaking a bit more, and I will take some of his advice and apply it.”

“I’ve been so inspired that earlier this month I created a startup at Startup Weekend for Education in San Francisco, and I still have a team working on it, but that’s not it. I just found out I got into Founder Institute, a part-time incubator for tech startups!”

“The [Technovation Challenge] experience was absolutely amazing, and my group of girls inspired me to start something of my own… watching my high school team code such an awesome app made me realize that I could do it too!” (This mentor was also accepted into the Founder Institute).

» Sign up today to participate as a mentor!

Technovation 2012 will be held in Berkeley, San Francisco, Mountain View, San Jose, Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles.

This work has been made possible because of the generous support of the Office of Naval Research.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
Dara OlmstedAbout the guest blogger: Dara Olmsted is a Grant Writer and Ethnographer for Iridescent, a science-education nonprofit that helps engineers, scientists and high-tech professionals bring cutting edge science, technology and engineering to high school girls and underprivileged minority children and their families. In her spare time, she writes for the Boston Globe’s Green Blog and makes sock monkeys. She currently resides in Palo Alto. Follow her on Twitter at @@dolmsted.